“It’s fun to stay at the YMCA”Sep 12th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: top story
Last week’s ribbon cutting at the completed and soon to be publicly opened Belle Chasse YMCA brought back a large collection of the people who first negotiated and worked on the project in 2006, to celebrate the achievement now years in the making.
Back in 2006, reconstruction from Hurricane Katrina really started taking shape for both the Parish and the Alliance Refinary, owned by ConocoPhillips. While on a tour of the devastation, officials from ConocoPhillips saw how much damage the surrounding community had sustained. It was then that the company made the $5 million donation that fully-funded the construction of the Belle Chasse YMCA.
“Their donation of $5 million has allowed us to build a much needed center,” said Lisa Works, current Advisory Committee Chair of the Belle Chasse YMCA.
“Six years ago today, we were coming up off our backs from Katrina,” said Greg Lucchesi, Refinery Manager at Alliance. “Today, the Parish is flourishing.”
In rare circumstance, funding this project was not the major issue. The first obstacle for the Belle Chasse community center project was finding the proper organization to build it. The committee’s first thought was to go to the people who do this the most, the YMCA.
“In early 2007, we met with the Greater New Orleans YMCA and the proposal was made to add Belle Chasse to the Greater New Orleans YMCA,” said Dr. Stuart Guey, who had previously donated time to the advisory committee for the YMCA. “We made one point clear… we had $5 million. Their vote was unanimous a decision [to build].”
With the experience the YMCA had building these kinds of centers, the ground work for the project began on a good note. The organization had to quickly secure the site at 8101 Belle Chasse Highway to build on.
But before construction could begin, the organization had to overcome a series of legal requirements, such as right of ways with the railroad and other local property owners. Once those were secure, then there were issues with the building the foundation on the site.
But the results gave Belle Chasse the first phase of an envious mutli-story YMCA facility, including work out and fitness equipment, a lap pool, study areas, youth activity centers, a café and many other amenities.
“This is truly a community building,” said Works, “built when you couldn’t dream of this day.”
The current facility only represents the first phase of the plan for Belle Chasse. David Ozmore, with the Greater New Orleans YMCA, said that future improvements will complete the Belle Chasse building, as the team originally envisioned it.
“The YMCA invented the game of basketball, so phase II includes a gymnasium, a soccer field and another $2 million in wish-list items,” Ozmore said. “It’s been fun to design and redesign, and we think those changes are productive and it will be exciting.”
The facility is accepting registrations now for the official full public opening on September 12.